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The End of Net Neutrality: What You Can Do

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The End of Net Neutrality: What You Can Do

From the looks of it, net neutrality is over. So, let's talk about the likely impacts, next steps, and what you can do to help offset the results.

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So should we do something? And if so, what should we do?

Well, first, it's unclear as to what will happen without net neutrality regulation. There's tons of FUD out there around this today. We really don't know. It's an unfortunate situation — nobody likes Ajit Pai, nobody likes their ISP (it really doesn't matter which one you have), and everybody pretty much likes they way the internet works today.

I don't know Ajit Pai, but man, he's made a ton of unpopular decisions in a really short period of time. That, coupled with his background, just really rubs most folks the wrong way. And he's not even trying to deal with that. But he doesn't have to either — he's the FCC chair whether we like it or not. Likewise, ISPs have been putting absolutely zero effort into alleviating people's concerns, leading folks into unbridled dystopian flights of fancy.

Second, what does happen will likely not change the internet you get today, nor what you pay for it (not significantly, at least). Personally, I deeply doubt that ISPs will be ham-handed enough to make lives for their current customers difficult. Where I live, I really only have a few ISPs I can use — some local options, Comcast, and Centurylink. After all, if Comcast starts doing things with their internet service that makes my life difficult, I'll start looking to other ISPs. And they know that. Now not everybody has options like I do, but many do; I don't live in a large city.

So maybe this is just a bunch of FUD? Maybe things won't be as bad as people say? Personally, this is where I fall, especially after putting this series together.

But what if things do turn out that badly? What then? And if you're convinced that what you hear is true, what should you do?

Well, let's just stop talking about calling FCC commissioners, or your Congress clones. That won't make any difference. Net neutrality is a partisan issue at this point, and we all know how the FCC is going to vote.

Net neutrality is gone.

I expect, next, you're going to see a flood of lawsuits from a variety of players. Do you think Google is going to just sit around and let this happen? I don't. And I bet you can put together a pretty strong freedom-of-speech argument for net neutrality too. But I'm not a lawyer, so I'll leave that there. When lawsuits come around, put your money where your mouth is and look to how you can support these.

Second, even though I've put together a pretty strong case against local ISPs being able to do much to circumvent a new non-neutral world, that doesn't mean that this isn't an option. This was based on some pretty broad assumptions on my part — assumptions that may not actually come to pass.

We really don't know how Tier 1 and 2 ISPs will react or price services. While municipal broadband will likely be illegal, small commercial ISPs are perfectly fine. If your local ISPs are becoming customer-hostile, start your own ISP and take those customers for yourself. And use your stance on net neutrality as a selling point.

Realistically, that's kind of it. VPNs aren't an option really, even if ISPs allow them. Have you tried to watch Netflix over a VPN recently?

So that's where we are today, and why net neutrality has become a complicated issue. We have a uniquely poor suited cast of characters, we have changes that nobody really wants, and those changes are driven by a combination of ideology and greed. We'll see what happens.

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Topics:
net neutrality ,cloud ,vpn

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